Experimental constraints on syneruptive magma ascent related to the phreatomagmatic phase of the 2000AD eruption of Usu volcano, Japan

Yuki Suzuki*, James E. Gardner, Jessica F. Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


We experimentally studied the dacitic magma ejected during the first event in the Usu 2000 eruption to investigate the conditions of syneruptive magmatic ascent. Geophysical data revealed that the magma reached under West Nishiyama, the location of the event's craters, after rising beneath the summit. Prior study of bubble-size distributions of ejecta shows two stages (stage 1 and stage 2) with different magma ascent rates, as the magma accelerated beneath West Nishiyama with the start of the second stage. To simulate ascent of stage 1 from the main reservoir, which was located at a depth of 4-6 km (125 MPa) to 2 km (50 MPa) beneath West Nishiyama, decompression experiments were conducted isothermally at 900°C following two paths. Single step decompression (SSD) samples were decompressed rapidly (0.67 MPa/s) to their final pressure and held for 12 to 144 hours. Multiple step decompression (MSD) samples were decompressed stepwise to their final pressure and quenched instantly. In MSD, the average decompression rates and total experimental durations varied between 0.01389 to 0.00015 MPa/s and 1.5 to 144 hours, respectively. Syneruptive crystallization was confined to stage 1, and the conditions of ascent were determined by documenting similarities in decompression-induced crystallization between ejecta and experiments. Core compositions, number densities, and shapes of experimental microlites indicate that ascent to 2 km depth occurred in less than 1.5 h. Volumes and number densities of experimental microlites from the SSD experiments that best replicate the decompression rate to 2 km indicate that the magma remained at 2 km for approximately 24 h before the eruption. Stagnation at a depth of 2 km corresponds with horizontal transport through a dike from beneath the summit to West Nishiyama, according to geodetic results. The total magma transport timescale including stage 2 is tens of hours and is shorter than the timescale of precursory seismicity (3.5 days), indicating that the erupted magma did not move out of the reservoir for the first 2 days. This is consistent with the temporal change in numbers of earthquakes, which reached a peak after 2 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-444
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Decompression experiments
  • Decompression-induced crystallization
  • Eruption trigger
  • Groundmass microlite
  • Syneruptive magma ascent
  • Textual analyses
  • Usu 2000 eruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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